• Nick Kemp

Task 2 Essay: Punishing Children

Question: It is important to learn the difference between right and wrong at an early age. Punishment is necessary to help them learn this distinction. To what extent do you agree or disagree with this opinion? What sort of punishment should parents and teachers be allowed to use to teach good behaviour to children?

Band 8+ Sample Answer:

(Intro) It is argued that a clear focus on learning correct and incorrect behaviour is essential at a young age and that punishment is a necessary tool to facilitate this process. I fully support this idea, and I believe that although smacking can be justified in some extreme cases, non-violent punishments such as removing rewards are more effective.

(Body 1) I strongly believe that punishment can be a powerful method to encourage positive behaviour in situations where children are in danger. For example young children may lack awareness of significant dangers such as hot surfaces in the kitchen or fast moving traffic when crossing the road. If children are at risk of being burnt or even killed, I believe it is appropriate to shout, offer a stern warning or even a short, hard smack on the hand, which can be followed later by a hug to reduce any emotional stress caused. In this way, the shock will be memorable and help build their awareness of these potential risks.

(Body 2) It can also be argued that a good balance of rewards and punishments can result in sustained good behaviour in children over a long period of time. This is because most children enjoy receiving praise and even rewards from their parents and teachers. Examples of rewards could include small gifts, extra playtime, or even a bedtime story. Therefore if children exhibit bad behaviour, parents and teachers could remove the reward as a punishment. This strategy could be formalised through a chart which clearly showed the child’s progress, as they accumulated or lost points for producing positive or negative behaviour respectively.

(Conclusion) In conclusion I fully support the idea that punishments can support child development through increasing awareness of good and bad behaviour, both in dangerous situations and over longer periods. While I accept that smacking is suitable for the former, I feel that removing rewards as a punishment or more effective an less traumatic for young children. Therefore governments should educate parents and teachers about these strategies to facilitate their widespread adoption. (336 words).

Words: Nick Kemp, former IELTS examiner.

Images: Thomas Grau / Pixabay.